Being someone you are not will only get
you somewhere that you didn’t want to go.

By Paget Pizitz

Willie Wonka wasn't afraid to be himself, and he lived in a magic land full of chocolate and seemed quite happy (except that creepy boat scene) AND he brings a good point here….what if your makeup mask meets a wet wipe?

I was born on May 2, so I guess this means happy birthday to me. My mom’s biggest gripe about being pregnant was the Scotch she had to stop sipping and the cigarettes she had to stop puffing. Considering most of her friends smoked while their bun was cooking in the oven, this was a pretty big sacrifice in the 1970s. So thanks to my mom for hatching me 30-something years ago and giving up those vices that would have most likely lead to birth defects or more serious mental illness than I probably already have. Jokes aside, you could scour the earth and never find a better, more selfless mother. And if you’ve met her, then you’re hip to this jive; the woman’s a saint.

I was brought into this world by a Doctor named Foots. As the story goes, my father was out drinking with Foots the night before I arrived, and he showed up to the hospital with one leg still full of  J&B. “The only thing wrong with your son is that he was born without a penis.” If I have heard this story once, I have heard it a thousand times.

After my dad came to the hospital floor, he realized his baby son was actually a baby girl and no body parts were missing at all. The plan had been to leave the hospital as Merritt Jr., but instead I left as “Prune Toes” Pizitz.  I literally thank God every day that my name was swiftly changed to Paget, as I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had to answer to Prune Toes. In truth, I did spend a chunk of my childhood feeling like I let my dad down being born without a penis. Perhaps that’s why I played with a tackle box and fishing lures instead of Barbie and her floozie gal pals. It eventually dawned on me that my father loved me, boy parts or not (I fear I have said penis a few too many times this column). This is all getting a little too intimate, and I bet you think I’m crying, alone under the covers, eating my feelings and cradling my cat. Rest assured that I am not, but I will get to the point.

This daunting walk down memory lane got me pondering the idea of masks and how, from time to time and to varying degrees, we all wear them. Unless you are Batman or have some bizarre fetish, it isn’t practical to hide behind a mask in intimate and romantic relationships. It won’t behoove anyone, this I can promise.

Masks are Creepy…be yourself

Unfortunately, many people live their lives behind them in attempts to seek approval. Ironically, approval gained in this way all too often becomes the source of rejection when this persona we have created of ourselves falls apart. Don’t spend those first exciting months of a new relationship hiding behind a mask or pretending to be someone you aren’t. This will just be a hindrance in developing strong and meaningful relationships. Also, that mask is going to get pretty itchy around the sixth month, and I bet it’s also going to cause a very unappealing rash.

I once spent three months pretending to like blue cheese for a chef I dated in D.C. Blue cheese causes hives down my back and makes my throat feel like its being snuggled by a python. If you hide behind your mask for too long, you run the risk of forgetting or losing who you really are. Your homework this month is to think long and hard on what scares you about showing your true self. I can’t answer that question for you, but I’ll be willing to bet it has something to do with the fear of rejection. To this, I can only say be authentic and honest about who you are and what you want. I’m glad I told Chris blue cheese made my throat swell.  He did dump me, but I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the cheese and everything to do with him being gay.

Paget is the owner of Connections: Matchmaking and Personal Consulting.

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